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Optical Design & Engineering

SPIE leaders commend improvements in U.S. government travel policy

SPIE Newsroom
28 November 2016

On 28 November, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) took action to ensure uniform improvements to U.S. government (USG) conference travel policy through a revision to the M-12-12 memo. This is a much-needed change for the many U.S. government scientists whose work has been impeded by some unintended consequences in implementing the original travel guidance memo.

"SPIE and other scientific societies have continued to advocate for scientists employed by the federal government since the now four-year-old restrictions on travel was put into place," said Jennifer Douris, Government Affairs Director for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and a leader among those advocating for improvements.

"The inability to participate in technical conferences both in the U.S. and abroad diminishes the researcher's ability to learn about the latest developments and pivot rapidly to take cost-effective advantage," SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs told a gathering of scientists in 2014. "Reducing access by government employees to emerging research and connections with the academic and industrial science and technology communities hinders scientific discovery, as government science has always been vital for photonics innovation. By participating in scientific conferences, government personnel influence the research agenda to benefit the nation."